American – ‘Coping With Loss’ (Sentient Ruin)
Sentient Ruin Laboratories
Genre: Black Metal/Noise
After a few singles and demos and a split with Crone, the Virginia bandAmerican emerge with their debut full-length, Coping With Loss.
It’s a wide-ranging album exploring the depths and darkness with many different styles. There’s traditional black metal with vocals buried deep in the mix. There are also sludgy sections with a nice groove, contrasted with dense, noisy parts. Lengthy ambient parts are also injected into many of the songs. There’s a lot of ebb and flow to American’s compositions, making for a compelling album save for the closing 18 minute track, which doesn’t have the payoff needed for such a long song.
Black Trip – ‘Goin’ Under’ (Prosthetic)
Genre: Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
Sweden’s Black Trip are a real throwback to the immense melody of bands like Thin Lizzy, which might seem a bit odd since this band contains members from Nifelheim, Exhumed, Enforcer, and Entombed.
Showcasing that just about any retro rock band from Sweden is worth their weight in gold, the musicianship is top notch and the songwriting is excellent as well. For fans of the classics and for people who enjoy ample amounts of melody with their heavy metal, Black Trip succeed.
Children of Technology – ‘Future Decay’ (Hells Headbangers)
Hells Headbangers Records
Genre: Thrash Metal
Italy’s Children of Technology blend a punk intensity with the thrash tendencies of the legendary Teutonic big three. Their sophomore release Future Decay is thirty minutes of a non-stop intense beat down. The band returns with a new guitar and bass player and don’t miss a beat.
Each track is straight to the point and never lets up but the band hits their stride on the old school onslaught “Under the Ripping Storm.” The main riff could have been taken right from Destruction’s Infernal Overkill. Vocalist DeathLörd Astwülf utilizes a throaty tone and also imitates the squeal of Schmier impeccably. In the same style of Toxic Holocaust and Midnight, Children of Technology should receive the same attention and success.
Cross Examination – ‘Dawn of the Dude’ (Organized Crime)
Organized Crime Records
Genre: Crossover/Thrash Metal
Party-crashing crossover unit Cross Examination are back from a six-year hiatus with their second EP, Dawn of the Dude, a no-frills 4:20 free-for-all of manic crossover thrash ideal for your favorite beer-swilling D.R.I. offender or Municipal Waste-case.
With its skate-park sensibility, Dawn of the Dude is rude and in-your-face, with Devil Dan (aka Kegmaster Dan) crapping verbal and the riffs skidding and grooving right off the rails. The album zooms by far too fast, but it remains a welcome road-rash of a return for these St. Louis speed-freak rapscallions.
Darkness Divided – ‘Written In Blood’ (Victory)
San Antonio’s Darkness Divided make a strong entry to the Christian metalcore scene with their debut album Written In Blood.
It has the typical metalcore styling such as breakdowns, but they do a few things to set themselves apart from the masses. One is the diverse vocals. There is some melodic singing, but the harsh vocals are very potent and the band’s strength. Gerard Mora utilizes various growls, screams and yells to avoid monotony. They mix catchy riffs with crushing ones, and add atmosphere and other subtle touches to give the album even more variety.
Deadlock – ‘The Re-Arrival’ (Lifeforce)
Genre: Modern Metal
Releasing their debut effort back in 2002, modern melodic death metal band Deadlock are back with a two disc release The Re-Arrival. The first disc contains songs that the band has chosen to re-record from earlier in their career and three brand new tracks. The second disc is for the die-hard fan, which contains some hard to find demos and unreleased material.
The new slant on the material is in line with their current musical approach and the material is better for it. The band consists of two vocalists: Sabine Scherer who supplies the melodic vocals and John Gahlert who joined the band in 2011 handles the gruff approach. Scherer has a gorgeous clean voice and shines on the emotionally charged “A New Era” and the insanely catchy “Earthlings.” This is the perfect jumping on point if you are not familiar with Deadlock.
Dictated – ‘The Deceived’ (Metal Blade)
Metal Blade Records
Genre: Brutal Death Metal
Dutch brutal death metallers Dictated unveil their second full length album The Deceived; their first for Metal Blade. Their sound is very reminiscent of Dying Fetus, with the obvious omission being the bombastic and stellar guitar soloing.
The guitarists (both of whom are female) prefer to bludgeon away while vocalist York Keijzer spits visceral venom on the masses. The potential for the band to break through is there, but they have yet to realize their full potential. If blastbeats and midtempo sections are your thing, then Dictated may be for you.
Empire Auriga – ‘Ascending The Solar Throne’ (Moribund)
Genre: Dark Ambient/ Black Metal
Not many albums have been released in the “suicidal” black metal subgenre since the demise of Xasthur in 2010, but Michigan’s Empire Auriga, a trio, takes up the mantle on Ascending The Solar Throne. Their second album and the first since 2006, Ascending The Solar Throneconsists of programmed harmonics, synthesizers, and muted, spoken word vocals deep in a hazy background.
The result is dreamy, dark ambient/black metal with hints of a strummed guitar and even fainter hints of a beat, but this overly long album has virtually no variation. The debut, Auriga Dying, had much more structure, and you’ll find your attention wandering quite quickly as Ascending The Solar Throne quickly becomes background noise and not much else.
Extinction A.D.- ‘Plague Prophecy’ (Good Fight)
Good Fight Recordings
Genre: Thrash Metal
Fourth-fifths of This Is Hell have gone full-on thrash metal with this debut EP from their new project Extinction A.D.. There’s little of the hardcore roots of their other band, as this group holds to a brash method of thrash. The energy given out from each member doesn’t dissipate, and the songs are tightly formed to avoid any lulls.
The venom-laced vocals spit out words like a submachine gun to match the keen riffs. Extinction A.D. avoid gimmicks or goofy mannerisms, a welcome departure from many contemporary thrash bands. Plague Prophecy is a bite-sized prize that finishes up right before monotony sets up.
Grinder Blues – ‘Grinder Blues’ (Megaforce)
Fans of Dug Pinnik need no explanation to the eclectic stylings that he has produced with various bands over the year. Yet, just when you think you heard him at his potential; the leader of the seminal band King’s X returns with a new project Grinder Blues, who have released their self-titled debut album.
His soul tinged voice and blues heart feel right at home on this record’s ten tracks. Collaborating with the Emmy Award winning Bihlman Brothers (Scot and Jabo), this collection of pure blues sounds and metallic tones is a rather enjoyable record.